Many people often get displaced from their homes by the courts or by the government. It’s a life that is not chosen and, instead, is chosen for us. It’s a life worth talking about, worth overcoming, and worth fighting for. I learned to be a proud and strong person by learning how to push through obstacles and by forgiving the opposition. I learned to build like my life depended on it, simply because it does. Some people are born into foster care, taken at birth. Some people are forced to grow up around strangers and around people who they have no connecting roots with. But they, unfortunately, were forced.
I was given up at the age of 14 after already having family ties. I was a freshman at Pacific High School in San Bernardino, California. Some would have described me as impressionable, even to the extent of saying I had issues with authority. I would have described myself as an average, hormonal adolescent. Nonetheless, I looked up one day and found myself entering someone else’s home as arranged by the San Bernardino County court system. Foster care was nerve-racking. It showed me everyday how little amount of control I had over my life. Every so often, I cried myself to sleep, thinking of the soil that I come from.
After a while, this part of my life angered me. Questions, concerns, thoughts and plots began to dictate my mind. How dare they just pick me up and put me here? To hell with everyone involved! How can I control this? How can I start making my own choices? The more I thought about those things, the more I brainstormed and created ways to have more control over my life. The control was coming on quicker than expected. Now, looking back, foster care had a lot of freedom. Of course, we know there are rules. However, most of the rules that were in place were in the interest of the child. Once I found a way to finesse my situation, I did so very sloppily. My report was filled with negative remarks. Being listed as a runaway and “AWOL” didn’t help when it was time to find a stable home. No one would give me any credit. I took advantage of my freedom in all the wrong areas and never really thought the plans through. One night, I slept in a complete stranger’s RV motor home which was a dangerous taste of temporary freedom. The problem isn’t that we cannot be free. The problem is that we don’t know how to be free. I wasn’t prepared.
Speaking to counselors helped me a lot. I recommend therapy to anyone and everyone. Therapy can come in many forms such as speaking to a counselor or participating in an activity to release trauma. Therapy is a way to deal with the circumstances of the system, to become focused on a plan of action after care, and to be exposed to the many opportunities of life. Therapy healed me. It reminded me that I am beautifully damaged, just as anyone else in this place. Stability comes after care—and, my goodness, is that expensive. Housing is a never-ending bill, and so is transportation. College is hard, but it’s so worth the fight. It is its own micro-universe. Be ready and stay ready so that you won’t have to get ready! Speak to someone about the Independent Living Program and Assembly Bill 12. Those two key resources were vital to my transition from care to independence.
Being on your own is much more than a fantasy. It’s reality, and it is hard. We must establish our position, maintain it, and elevate. We must be mentally prepared and capable to walk the journey through. Use the downfalls as time to plan and evaluate. Do not sit back and wait, especially if you really want success. Remember, success is a pile of small successes. So, get it done, take it, it’s yours! Wear your wounds as battle marks of honor. Get out and tell your story, just like I do. Telling your story releases our thoughts out of our minds and hearts and into the atmosphere. Remember, you are not alone. We are not exempt from struggle. Yet, we are also not exempt from the beauty of this world. We are all blessed with a beautiful struggle.